Friday, December 9, 2011

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

During yesterday's gospel, this song leaped into my head.  I became aware of this old carol just a few years ago, but it's now one of my favorite Advent hymns.

Updated to answer a private comment:  Yes, I know the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's conception without original sin.  This song sounds like it's more about Jesus' conception/incarnation, but it follows the gospel reading for December 8th.  "The angel Gabriel was sent from God . . . "  Hailing Mary as "full of grace" and (in the song) "most highly favored lady" reminds me of her sinlessness.  Anyway, happy listening!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Second Week of Advent

"Prayer, mortification, and good example will always form the basis of the Christian apostolate . . . Apostolate springs from a great love for Christ."
Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God

How is your Advent going?  We got off to a slow start, but it's not too late to make progress.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Second Try

While Marianna was shadowing at next year's school, Rebecca and I had another go at gathering and dipping leaves.  This time we used beeswax (instead of candle scraps), with beautiful results.  The leaves smelled better, of course, and their color has held up reasonably well.  They are fading and browning, but more slowly than our first batch.

Becca and I sewed a few garlands, too.
 Can you see the other end of Becca's thread taped to the door handle?

 One garland drapes between the kitchen and family room.
 Two more hang from the school room and kitchen chandeliers.
By the way, these are the ten-days-old leaves.  They were stunning a week ago!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just in Time

Inspired by Lesson 2's variation on the placemat,

We bought fabric and trimmings.
I still do most of the measuring and cutting.

These pretty corners seem almost magical!
Trimming the final threads . . .  (We have few pictures of Becca sewing, because she sits on my lap.  We place the foot pedal on a stool under the table.)
Ta da!
The girls both stitched beautiful, straight lines (and yes, some not-so-straight, too):

Time to pack for our Thanksgiving trip!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What She Said

I often wish I were better at praying--really listening and communicating with God.  Most of my "God time" is devoted to spiritual reading or the recitation of standard prayers.  Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .

Jennifer Fulwiler has posted a great analogy comparing prayer and greeting cards.  I found it comforting and inspirational.  You might like it, too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Napkins Galore!

It took us several sewing sessions, but we did finish our napkin project.  This was the first official lesson (after 3 mini-projects) in Stitch by Stitch.  After completing one napkin, we made the rest smaller, as the girls thought the specified measurements were just too big.  The bonus is that we now had enough fabric for almost a dozen napkins (plus a few for the dolls, plus leftover cloth). 
All three of us practiced mitering corners and sewing straight lines.  Some results were better than others.  :-)  I'm nearly as much of a beginner as they are.
A cloth napkin may not need laundering after each meal, so it's useful to keep your own until it's soiled.  Somewhere long ago (probably on a blog) I read about personalized napkin rings, which inspired our next creations:
Using already on-hand memory wire and beads, we began a collection.  The wooden beads are for the boys.  We girls made our own, plus a few for guests.  Maybe we'll get fancier eventually, but this works for now.
A final image:  Learning to sew has brought out Becca's inner ironer.  I'm not surprised; even though she can be messy, Rebecca usually prefers things "just so."

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Fun Stuff

Saving the best for last may be a fine way to manage ones dinner plate, but it's a poor way to run a [home]school.  Maybe it's distractibility or perhaps my temperament, but I tend to get caught up in the urgent--laundry, math, cooking, grammar--and run out of energy or time before enjoying crafts, music, or art.
This year I'm tackling my habit two ways: by prioritizing and co-oping.

I've set aside two big chunks of time on Monday and Friday mornings (not after lunch or "regular" school) for sewing with the girls. Even when I slack off, we usually manage something enriching.

For me, co-oping is an excellent way to make me do what I want to.  Two years ago I ran across this post about waxing autumn leaves.  Even with that bookmarked, and further encouragement from Elizabeth and Ginny last year, nothing happened.
This season I added leaf dipping to the list of group activities, and voila!  Accountability and responsibility for someone else's kids brings out the do-er in me.

Better late than never?

Disclosure:  A week later, our leaves are no longer brilliant.  I used white candle scraps instead of paraffin or beeswax, but I don't see how that would make a difference in preservation.  Wax is wax as far as sealing the leaf, right?  If you know something about making the colors last longer, I'd love to know about it.  We still have some brightness on the trees here . . .  Thanks!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekends Aren't Always for Relaxing

But you already knew that, right?  Consider this morning:
  • Walk the dog 0700-0750.
  • Drive Joe to violin 0800.
  • Shower, dress, make arrangements for Marianna's day.
  • Drive Daniel to 0900 mass, pick up Joe.
  • Grab 1/2 a bagel, make arrangements for Rebecca's day.
  • 0940:  Drive Becca to a friend's house.
  • 1000:  Chapel visit, pick up Daniel.
  • 1035:  Home again.
Still to come: the end-of-season sports party for the boys (I must drive and stay), an afternoon meeting for Len (when he gets home from work), and a high school party for Daniel (we only have to pick up for that).  That's all I remember without checking my planner!  Then there are the standard weekend chores (all of us), laundry, cooking and eating dinner (we may all be home for that!).  None of which include the "real" to-do list--school prep, sewing, processing meat for the freezer, online research and ordering, and a million other fun or important tasks.

The sun is shining and the leaves are gorgeous outside.  Maybe we'll get out in the freshness. (Dusty's walk only half counts, since it's mostly dark and I don't have a human companion on the weekends.)

Enjoy your day!

Random photo:

We recently had the driveway dug up (by a bulldozer) and repaved.  The girls and I enjoyed watching the process, and I got a kick out of having a steamroller (?) in my gargage.    ;-)

Friday, November 4, 2011


(image found here)

Did you ever notice that the 4th Joyful Mystery (the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple) takes place at the same time as the 1st of the Seven Sorrows of Mary (Simeon's Prophecy)?  Joy and wonder as Simeon recognizes the promised Messiah and blesses the family are intermingled with pain as he continues, "and a sword will pierce through your own soul also . . ."

This is parenthood, isn't it? 

I wouldn't trade it for the world, though.

No, I'm not feeling gloomy--just marveling at the complicated nature of my vocation.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

While I Was Away

When I left town to help someone, Len took time off from work and held down the fort for a week. What a wonderful man/husband/father!

And when Dad is in charge of the homeschool, something interesting is bound to happen . . .
Hmm . . .  What could be in the plastic bag?
 Len found this recently dead lizard while mowing the lawn.
 Waste not, want not . . .
 The stereoscope enlarges 3-D objects (vs. slides under a microscope) to 20X and 40X.  It's been one of our best school investments.  (Skip the next few pictures if you're squeamish!)
 Marianna took most of these photos.  There are plenty more!
 Len  walked me through the pictures, pointing out the heart (they could see the ventricles under the stereoscope), lungs, spinal cord, kidneys, trachea (which opened near the tip of the tongue), etc.
Having a veterinarian for a dad can certainly be fascinating.  He's brought home baby bunnies and squirrels for visits, and dissected a still-warm chipmunk on the kitchen table.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sew Fun

Learning to sew is a big item on this year's school agenda.  I've blocked off two mornings a week, which means that even if I slack off we'll still accomplish something.

The girls and I are working through Stitch by Stitch (thanks, Elizabeth, for the inspiration!).  We started in September, creating a stitch sampler to see just what our old machine can do.

Next up  was another mini-project (not even at lesson one yet!):  machine appliqueing on a t-shirt.  Knowing the anxiety level/perfectionistic attitude of some members of the crew, I gave a pep talk about process vs. product, we're all learning together, etc. etc.  I also decided we would work on a sample together, using a discarded shirt, before making the ones that mattered.

After shopping trips to aquire t-shirts, fusible webbing, and iron-on stabilizer, we were ready to begin.  BTW, the shopping isn't easy for me.  I am so not in my element at the fabric store.  The folks there are helpful, but sometimes I'm so hazy about what I want/need that it's hard for them to answer my questions.  Anyway . . .

 Ta da!  What we thought would be a throw-away is now a night shirt!
Then it was on to the real appliques.  BTW, Deborah specifically recommended hearts so we could practice straight lines (we sewed them first), corner pivots, and curved lines.
The appliques are ironed onto the stablized t-shirts, then the edges are stitched to prevent unraveling.

Since then, we've completed lesson one (napkins) and bought our supplies for lesson two (a variation on a placemat with pockets).  More pictures to come . . .